Free Image Editors: PicMonkey Vs. Pixlr

Written by Candice Underwood on 1st October 2015

(Last updated 9th February 2016)

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Free Image Editors: PicMonkey Vs. Pixlr

Great images are imperative to creating the right impression for your brand. With visually engaging content becoming more and more popular it’s another way to capture your audience and convey your brand personality to your site visitors.

There are lots of fantastic free image editors out there - Fotor, Picasa, GIMP, Photoscape - but lets focus on PicMonkey and Pixlr. We will compare the tools you can use in each to achieve the following image edits: 

  • cropping, 
  • resizing,
  • adding text and
  • adding a drop shadow.

Now before we get started, lets take a look at the two editors under the microscope:

PicMonkey (

A view of the PicMonkey image editor

PicMonkey is a modern photo editor with emphasis on ease of use and a clear, stylised interface. With a free version available online it allows you to make quick photo edits at the click of a mouse, but that’s not all. As well as the classic editing tools it also has a large amount of built-in filters that can be added to any existing image. Another great point about PicMonkey is there is also a PicMonkey extension for Chrome available, so as you browse the web you can snap up any images from that page and open them in your editor in a new tab – very handy for a speedy photo edit!

Any downsides? With PicMonkey it’s also impossible to create a canvas from scratch and you have to start with an image, which can be pretty restricting. Lastly although it is free it does display all the tools you can use on a premium package in front of you. But if you just want to stick to the edits below it’s one of the best available.

Pixlr (

Pixlr is a more traditional photo editor, but it has a lot to offer. Although a free editor it’s not restricted to desktop, offering two online versions, a desktop version and as a mobile app so it’s readily available for all users. It also caters to a bigger audience, with the original online Pixlr Editor reminiscent of Photoshop whereas the newer Pixlr Express offering quick fixes with overlays, creative borders and fun fonts and stickers.

Another fantastic thing about Pixlr is it brings with it versatility and more functionality when editing in layers!

Today we are going to focus on the Pixlr Editor available online so lets see what it has to offer.


Now when cropping both these editors are very similar, with the cropping tool listed in the side toolbar. You can define your cropped area using drag and drop cornered boxes, so it’s very quick and easy. However, with some occasional lagging PicMonkey does fall behind here as it struggles to keep up.

Winner: Pixlr


Now when resizing both editors are very similar, with both offering a pixel vs percentage resizing option and a ‘Constrain Proportions’ option to keep your proportions in check. Both are great for a quick resize, however there is a downside to Pixlr here in that it doesn’t show your image resizing live, like in PicMonkey. Therefore we’d recommend knowing your exact pixel sizes before resizing your image if using Pixlr.

Winner: PicMonkey

Adding text over your image

When it comes to adding text over an image both have the tools you need. With both, you can simply click on the tool and type away, using their stylistic tools to change your font colour, size, alignment etc.

But when it comes to the main the decision - ‘What font do I use?’ -  a major advantage of PicMonkey is not only the vast selection of fonts available, but also the ability to choose your own fonts from your computer. This is perfect if you have a brand font installed on your computer that may not be available elsewhere. Unfortunately with Pixlr, when choosing your font there is no example or an option to choose your own font so it’s not easy to scroll through and choose a font you like. This does make choosing a font more time consuming.

Remember earlier when I mentioned layers? Well adding text to your image is a great example of where layers can come in very handy. When you add your text Pixlr will automatically create a new layer for your text so you can edit this layer without affecting any other layers on your image. It then displays your layers in its own layer menu, so you can flick between them all easily.

Winner: PicMonkey...just.

Adding a drop shadow

Adding a drop shadow to your image can give it depth and with both tools you can easily adjust the size, colour, opacity and angle of your shadow. But in my opinion, this is where Pixlr and those layers really shine.

Unlike PicMonkey, where you are restricted to one drop shadow on one layer, one of the best things about using layers in Pixlr is the ability to create a drop shadow on different layers. This means you can really create a strong, visually engaging image

Winner: Pixlr


It may not be a tool but when you need to edit images fast, accessibility is top of the list.

This one’s easy - hands down, Pixlr offers the best overall. Not only does it works great on Apple devices so you can edit on the go, but its array of versions means your tool of choice can be used on different devices anytime.

Unfortunately with PicMonkey it does require flash, so it can’t be used on Apple mobile devices and will require some “allowing” in Firefox and the latest version of Chrome. It’s also only available on desktop. Having said that, rumours are there is an app coming soon so keep an eye out for this!

Winner: Pixlr

And the winner is...Pixlr

Although both have their pros and cons, with 3 out of 5, Pixlr takes the prize. With its diverse interface and wide range of editing tools, it caters to most needs and is everything you could need for a quick and easy image edit. 

This article was posted in Tools, Quick Tips by Candice Underwood

  • Candice Underwood

    Candice Underwood

    Candice is our Digital Account Manager and first point of call for our clients. When she's not organising projects or helping out you'll find her singing a song or two and hitting the gym.


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